Ehnahre – The Marrow

Literature has been one of the foremost sources of inspiration for metal lyricism and composition alike, regardless of subgenre. The list of examples is significant—Ernest Hemingway and Cobalt, Georges Bataille and Deathspell Omega, H. P. Lovecraft and seemingly everyone, and so on. Drawing inspiration from a novel is a challenging but relatively structured undertaking; a plot can be interpreted into numerous sonic and lyrical directions but will always follow the same trajectory of its narrative. Poetry contrasts this process by its very nature, as its natural code of symbolic meaning and suggestive prose necessitates musical decoding drawn from a strictly thematic place. Even poems with a decipherable narrative are often told in a verbose, indirect manner that challenges metal lyricists and composers to write with a liberated hand, looking beyond the words on the page to a deeper understanding of the poem’s true meaning and mood. Agalloch’s interpretation of W. B. Yeats is a stellar example of this process being executed beautifully, as is the latest offering from Ehnahre, a Boston-based avant-garde metal collective who count Kay Dot alumni among their ranks. Their incredible four-part song cycle on The Marrow captures the essence of Theodore Roethke’s eponymous poem* through consuming landscapes of avant-garde death-doom that are as ridden with despair as the poet’s initial musing on whether or not life is worthwhile.

Kvlt Kolvmn // July 2017

Welcome back to Kvlt Kolvmn! Another month, another insane amount of premium black metal. For the second month in a row, Scott is back in the saddle, churning out sterling recommendation after sterling recommendation. Hell is most pleased with his offerings, and all is again right in the black metal world. In a similar fashion to death metal releases in July, I was skeptical regarding how many quality albums we would hear this month. Let’s be real: July is relatively awful for new releases across all genres of music, but can be especially brutal for metal. On most fronts, July 2017 proved me wrong by unleashing upon us some excellent black metal records that are not only worthy of a solid listen, but are some of the most accomplished to be released this year. Scott and I are happy to share these records with you, and hope you enjoy them as much as we did. So, without further adieu, into the ninth circle we go.

Hey! Listen to Hexer!

Those who live during anxious times like the ones we live in now, where every day seems to flirt with global devastation, may find themselves at a crossroads between different approaches to art. Some may cling to escapism to find ideal realms away from their own or to discover some…

Nightbringer – Terra Damnata

In some circles, USBM has long been a dirty acronym. Much reviled for its less-than-trve-kvlt aesthetic, black metal originating from the United States has seldom been considered an equal with its European peers. Over the past decade, several bands have begun to chink away at the wall of cynicism surrounding USBM to varying degrees of success. Nightbringer is one of these bands. If you have not heard their music before, think the bombast of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk-era Emperor, coupled with a slightly less insane mix of Deathspell Omega’s freneticism, the sonic oddness of Dodheimsgard, and the chilling atmosphere of Blut Aus Nord.

Grind My Gears – Piss Vortex

Grind My Gears is back once again with the swirling streams of caustic yellow filth. I promise that I will never again let sickness keep me and the grind away from your weak, prolapsed cavities. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve written about Piss Vortex for Heavy Blog (it’s not even the second) but these Copenhagen deviants are quite simply the best of the best; in terms of where they are taking the sound and the sickening swagger with which they do so. They’re not Napalm Death or Brutal Truth yet, obviously—they have less than hour of recorded music available to grind to—but with their recent surprise EP Soft Reboot they’ve delivered a quick wake up kick in the dick to anyone as yet unaware.

Kvlt Kolvmn – March 2017

Well, third time’s a charm, I guess—this here is the third consecutive installment of Kvlt Kolvmn Take Two, a monthly round-up of my favorite BM releases from the past 30-ish days. The only reason I’m surprised I could fill the column out this month is because of relatively little time I spent with black metal this month; there was just way too much incredible music coming out from virtually every other genre (seriously, if you haven’t yet, take a read through this month’s Editors’ Picks). Still, the black metal I did listen to was some of the best I’ve heard so far this year, with one album currently in the running for my BM AOTY. So without further ado, let’s dive in:

Dodecahedron – Kwintessens

It seems to come up every time a new record pops up within the niche that Gorguts, Portal, and Deathspell Omega built; there’s not much room left in the sphere of dissonant, atmospheric, and abstract extreme metal due to the limitations of the style. Murk chords and blastbeats can only carry a record for so long (as we’ve seen with first casualty Plebeian Grandstand), and the novelty is wearing thin. Bands such as Ulcerate and Sunless thrive on the death metal end of the spectrum by offering depth and creative riffing, but black metal has yet to have much success in challenging Deathspell’s monolithic reach. Dutch black metallers Dodecahedron are the best bet at carrying the torch into new territory, whose debut five years ago came (from seemingly) out of nowhere and quickly reached cult status. The group, who has significant ties to prog-fusion group Exivious, takes a more overtly progressive and technical approach to the sound, and therefore, into further extremities.

Kvlt Kolvmn – February 2017

Here we are folks – the second installment of Kvlt Kolvmn, Take Two, a monthly round-up of my top 10 favorite BM releases from the past 30 28 days. While I fully intended to make this an actually recurring segment, all of my time spent digging for new black metal has kept me stoked to come back here with new recommendations. It seems like every week I find a handful of new, invigorated albums that either venerate or progress one of my favorite genres. I will admit that February was a bit sparser than January, and I spent most of the month yearning for some big name albums dropping in March (more on that next month). Still, there was no shortage of great BM in February, and I’m excited once again to not only share these albums with you, but to also see your suggestions of releases I’ve missed out on but are definitely worth a spin.

Sunless – Urraca

The state of progressive or technical death metal is an interesting one as it has relatively quickly found the fancy of many modern musicians, swiftly becoming a well-canvassed style with no shortage of quality records. In no small part dominated by giants like Gorguts, Deathspell Omega, and Portal, the genre…

Draugsól Continues Iceland’s Black Metal Dominance

Just about this time last year, Simon ran a piece about how Icelandic black metal was primed to be the next big movement in the genre. Though I had been familiar – and highly impressed – with albums from Misþyrming and Naðra, I was genuinely surprised to see how many other quality black metal bands hailed from the small, not-so-icy island. And thankfully for BM fans, Simon was right about this being a growing trend, as 2017 has already plopped Draugsól’s Volaða Land onto my running top releases list for the year. The album title’s apt translation to “poor country” points to the desolate atmosphere that permeates throughout the record.